Norm Matloff's H-1B Web Page: cheap labor, age discrimation, offshoring

Posted by Poplicola 5 years, 4 months ago to Economics
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This page and the extended resources it links to offer a superb analysis of how the H-1B visa program is being abused by employers of computing professionals to the great detriment of American workers while creating a perverse financial incentive for the tech sector to back politicians who disregard the desire of their constituents to end the program.

It is particularly appalling to hear employers claims that they cannot find qualified Americans to fill these slots when they exclude from consideration people over 35 and build job descriptions that hyper-specify intricate combinations of long periods of experience with specific versions of specific products when anyone with average skill in the field could get the work done in practice.

Even worse, it provides ammunition to the socialists and communists who can then turn around and point to this sort of behavior to condemn Capitalism itself.

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  • Posted by $ sjatkins 5 years, 4 months ago
    In practice it is EXTREMELY difficult to get a qualified applicant into the country to work and keep them here for the long term. I have lost two of the best software engineers I have met in the last three years due to visa restrictions that sent them back home for extended periods. Contrary again to the claims of this protectionist piece the people from abroad I have worked with were not paid less than American workers.
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  • Posted by SaltyDog 5 years, 4 months ago
    Just to be the Devil's Advocate here, why is it wrong to hire foreign nationals under a guest worker visa program, workers who will presumably pay taxes and contribute to the US economy, while at the same time it is desirable to effectively open the southern border to all who come seeking (and getting!) a free ride thereby becoming a drain on the economy and the taxpayer?
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    • Posted by 5 years, 4 months ago
      The visa program was ostensibly set up to bring in skilled guest workers to perform jobs for which no qualified American employees could be found.

      If a foreigner invented Galt's engine he or she should be welcomed in for that unique contribution, but the program is being used to fill routine openings that countless scores of unemployed Americans could fill.

      If you read the extend analysis on the linked site you will see that this is not how the visa program is functioning in practice. Qualified American workers are being bypassed for contrived reasons so jobs can be given to guest workers who are not able to freely move between jobs to compete in the open labor market. This constrained bargaining position prevents the guest worker from commanding compensation on a par with a similarly qualified American which creates a disincentive to hire Citizens.

      The website specifically addresses the claim that the guest workers are helping the economy by paying taxes; it does so by noting that American hires would be paying the same taxes and generating the same benefits to the economy that foreign nationals would.

      Moreover since the Citizen would command a higher wage ( for reasons touched on above and detailed in Professor Matloff's analysis), the employment of a native worker would yield more tax revenue.

      Granted this might be somewhat negated by a potential reduction in the level of profit earned by the employer forced to hire from the American job market, although that might not be the case given that displaced American workers have been shown to have a higher skill level than the cheaper guest workers they've been replaced by.

      These factors sufficiently muddle that analysis that one would really need to have a tax accountant compare hard numbers for both cases.

      That said, most guest workers tend to send remittances to their home country which represent earnings leaving the US Economy that are unlikely to be recovered through US Export income given our pathetic balance of trade.

      I would of course argue that it is not desirable to have an open Southern border and that issue is orthogonal to the discussion at hand.

      Overall it seems utterly irrational for a Nation to structure its immigration policy to place its own Citizens at a disadvantage.

      We should also consider the National Security implications of filling our Corporate Workplaces and Graduate Research Programs with large numbers of Foreign Nationals, at least some of whom can be reasonably presumed to have been co-opted by the intelligence services of their native lands to "liberate" proprietary US Technologies and Economic Secrets. We should also consider the possibility that Terrorist Groups might try to inject their own sleeper agents into the Guest Worker Program to prepare to launch overt attacks or engage in more subtle sabotage.
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  • Posted by $ sjatkins 5 years, 4 months ago
    There is no justification whatsoever for keeping an employer from hiring a qualified applicant from anywhere in the world. I have been in commercial software development at all levels for 35 years and in the heart of Silicon Valley. It is no myth that qualified applicants are quite difficult to find on shore or off. So stop pretending some right to coerce me and others based on nothing but empty assertions.

    I do not hyper-specify. I look for people that have a history of good results sure but more importantly I want people that can demonstrate in the interview process software competency.
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